Cattle prices were holding higher than last year, despite cooling over the past month, and were expected to rise as demand increases in the run-up to Christmas.
Increased throughputs have weighed on the markets, with prices dipping, but they remained about 2.2p/kg above last year’s levels, and 4.1p/kg higher than the five-year average in the week ending November 3, according to figures from AHDB.
Quality Meat Scotland (QMS) said these increased numbers were following seasonal trends, with the weekly kill reaching a seasonal peak in November.
QMS head of economic services Stuart Ashworth said: “The weekly kill of prime cattle through August and September 2018 was lower than last year and despite some increase in the kill through October, supply levels are similar to last year.
“However, the availability of primestock in the run-up to Christmas may prove to be better than last year as some of these slower finishing cattle come onto the market.”
But AHDB analyst Amey Brassington highlighted industry reports which said concerns around winter fodder shortages had impacted the number of under-finished cattle being slaughtered, with prime cattle and heifer slaughter numbers up 4.9 per cent and 16.5 per cent respectively on the year.
“Longer term, however, these premature slaughterings may result in shortages of good supermarket cattle in the coming weeks,” she said.
For lamb, throughputs finally recorded some uplift during the week ended November 7, with liveweight prices rising 2.46p/kg to 169.57p/kg.
But prices have fallen behind last year’s levels, although were well above the five-year average.
AHDB said auction market throughputs were still down 6 per cent on 2017, at 107,400 head, with estimated slaughterings also down 2 per cent year-on-year to 271,300 head during the week ended November 3, despite showing a week-on-week increase.